By Aditi Sethi-Brown, MD
Hospice providers specialize in caring for individuals with a life-limiting illness and supporting them to receive the best possible end-of-life care. There can be a lot of fear and uncertainty around receiving hospice care. Here are six hospice myths dispelled.
Myth 1: When someone starts hospice they are going to die soon.
Truth: Hospice patients may live for weeks, months and years on hospice. While patients must have a life-limiting illness to enroll in hospice, early admission into a hospice program allows more time for the team to fully understand the patient’s and family’s needs. Patients and families often wish they had received Hospice care sooner.
Myth 2: Hospice just provides morphine.
Truth: Hospice providers are experts in end-of-life care, providing emotional, spiritual and physical support to patients and families. This includes the support of nurses, aids, therapists, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers. While pain management is a part of hospice care, the goal of hospice is to support the patient and family.
Myth 3: Hospice is expensive.
Truth: Hospice is for anyone who needs it and who qualifies for it. Medicare pays for hospice care. In addition, Medicaid and many insurances also cover it. Anyone who does not have the ability to pay and wants hospice care can enroll.
Myth 4: Hospice is a place you go.
Truth: Most hospice patients receive care in their home, wherever home may be. We treat patients in their private residence, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing homes and the hospital. Some people may be treated in an inpatient facility if their symptoms become severe.
Myth 5: Hospice means giving up.
Truth: Choosing hospice does not mean you or your family are giving up hope. Decisions around end-of-life treatments are complex and can require gathering information and weighing options. Hospice helps patients and their families focus on living fully until they die.
Myth 6: It’s hard to start or stop hospice.
Truth: Hospice is always a choice. Patients can start hospice any time they are ready, and they can stop hospice at any time. Hospice starts with a phone call. If hospice isn’t the right choice for the patient or family, they can stop and start back at any time